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Left: Young Wolverines some of whom were recruited for power (Upchurch). Right: Power.
Chris Brown's recent article on Smart Football included a link to a 1997-vintage article by Bill Walsh (YTBW). Chris included it as a way of crediting Walsh for correctly predicting Tony Gonzalez would become a great NFL tight end. With Michigan transitioning further toward a Walsh-ian offense, I thought I'd appropriate the whole article to see how well Michigan's 2013 offensive roster matches Walsh-ian archetypes.
Before we jump in, you'll recognize a lot of what's said here from like every NFL draft report ever. Walsh's coaching tree perforated the league for years, and that meant the things he tended to look for in players became what most of the people making draft decisions were looking for. They've been repeated so often as to become memes, however I still think going back to the source can provide some insight into how Michigan's players and recruits are being evaluated.
This is all intended to help you do your own scouting when we publish things like Hello posts (lots of those coming up) and positional previews.
Tom Brady prototype, Tom Brady, Tom Brady with legs? --Bryan Fuller
Walsh Says: 6'3, 210. Having a strong arm isn't as important as an "inventory" of passes, although decent arm strength is a necessity:
"Arm strength is somewhat misleading. Some players can throw 80 yards, but they aren't good passers. Good passing has to do with accuracy, timing, and throwing a ball with touch so it is catchable…
"Remember, the goal of passing a ball is to make sure it is caught ... by your intended receiver."
The most important characteristic for a quarterback is intuition/instincts. He has to be able to sense the rush, make the right decision quickly and get the ball "up and gone," and handle progressions and broken plays with grace as opposed to a sense of urgency.
"The single trait that separates great quarterbacks from good quarterbacks is the ability to make the great, spontaneous decision, especially at a crucial time."
Walsh wants his quarterback to be "courageous and intensely competitive." He also wants them mobile and defines it thus:
Mobility and an ability to avoid a pass rush are crucial. Some quarterbacks use this mobility within the pocket just enough so they are able to move and pass when they "feel" a rush. But overall quickness and agility can make a remarkable difference. As an example, there were some very quick boxers in Sugar Ray Leonard's era, but he was quicker than they were and because of that he became a great champ.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Tom Brady, obviously. Tate Forcier.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: High accuracy plus high YPA. "Makes things happen."
What you can learn on film: Doesn't make you nervous. Escapes from pressure then seems calm, not rushed. Sees something and reacts quickly. Receivers aren't making tough catches or breaking stride.
What could signal bust potential: First a warning on this part not to take it as "anyone who exhibits this trait will bust." What I'm saying is beware a guy ranked highly because this feature he possesses, which is a good thing to possess, may be overrated. Here it's arm strength—more an NFL problem than college since college QBs can learn systems and Navarre their way to great college careers with only one type of pass. Arm strength with no accuracy and a terrible delivery can turn into a great player if he's got an innate sense (think Stafford), but more often a coach will try to fix it and end up with a Dontrelle Willis.
How our guys compare: So far only Devin Gardner has seen substantial play against college defenses but we've gotten about a game's worth of Russell Bellomy too. Gardner's inventory has passes for finding Gallon 40 yards downfield, zips that only Dileo can get to, and even that Stafford-y thing he flipped to Dileo in the Outback Bowl. He has ideal size, and wins the mobility category over everybody not named Denard Robinson. If you give him a lane to pick up yards with his legs he will take it. And he MAKES PLAYS, those coming first to mind being where he runs around in the backfield defying sack attempts until something worthy of forward progress appears.
His weakness so far has been in that crucial "up and gone" aspect. His delivery has a long wind-up and that exacerbates a medium-to-mediocre diagnosis-reaction speed. Previous spring games when Devin looked really bad at this suggest it wasn't a few months as a receiver to blame, although that obviously didn't help. Gardner will live and die by his scrambling and ability to make linebackers freeze in coverage when he takes a step forward. He's not Tom Brady, but Gardner's package can equal a helluvah good college QB. An offseason as quarterback in a system designed to his strengths puts the ceiling high for 2013, and off the charts if there ends up being a 2014.
Russell Bellomy (right-Upchurch) in his few appearances last year—mostly the 2nd half against Nebraska—gave us a fairly strong indication of his abilities. He wins Walsh points by having a catchable ball, but there it ends. His apparent lack of arm strength severely limits the inventory, his agility isn't anything special vs. Big Ten defenders, and while you can forgive a freshman thrust into starting for this, he showed a lot of panic. I am skeptical that he can contribute on this level unless his arm strength improves as much as I expect his comfort will.
Shane Morris, now. Other than every scouting thing they can do with high schoolers, it's hard to say what he will turn out to be. The senior year performance and the thing that guy said in the Elite 11 about his primary read being taken away are marks against the Walsh archetype, but the size and arm and full inventory are there. He's too young to know if he will develop the rest.
Terrance Flagler, A-Train, Toussaint –Upchurch
Walsh Says: Needs to be big enough to take punishment and always fall forward, but "some smaller runners play big." He uses James Brooks but of course we've got our own exempli gratia. The 1B for backs is again, instincts, though he emphasizes getting "the first four yards within the scheme and then rely on instincts to take it beyond that."
Walsh puts a high value on durability, which maybe isn't as important in college where the hits are lighter and the roster is deeper. The other thing he harps on is instinct, mentioning he got burned on this with Terrance Flagler. This is the difference between Michael Shaw and Mike Hart.
After that he goes into bonus features. If he can block he doesn't have to come off the field in passing situations. He has to be able to catch a screen and the further down the field he can threaten as a receiver the more "dimensional" the offense becomes.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Anthony Thomas. Always falling forward, instinctual enough to be a kick returner before becoming the feature back.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: At least 185 lbs., thick and squat. Numbers don't tank against high-level competition.
What you can learn on film: Defenders look like bad tacklers (subtle movements by the RB make him tough to set up on). Falling forward, durability, operating in small spaces. Lots of D-I ticketed RBs will run sweeps all the time because their speed is just unfair against high school DEs. Watch the inside and zone running.
What could signal bust potential: Beware the big backs who wrack up huge high school yardage by running through terrible tacklers. It's hard to tell the guys who can subtly shift their bodies to make themselves difficult to bring down from the ones who just truck over a division full of future doctors and lawyers. One strong attribute can sometimes dominate a bad high school league, but D-I football requires several working together.
How our guys compare: Toussaint has shown the instincts and "plays big" at near the extreme for smallness. He looked on his way toward being a zone-style feature complement until having the unluckiest year in recent Michigan RB history. Justice Hayes is like Toussaint except he's yet to show those instincts. Dennis Norfleet has the playmaker thing down but there's a major difference in size between him and the other guys. Norfleet was listed at 5'7/161 last year, and Vincent Smith was put at 5'6/175. Hayes was 5'10/183 and Toussaint 5'10/202. Norfleet/Smith and Toussaint/Hayes are different tiers.
Among the plowshares, thick-trunked Thomas Rawls saw extensive action last year. The difference between him and Mark Ingram is Rawls seems to miss his hole a lot—that "first four yards" thing is a problem. I haven't seen enough of Drake Johnson yet to know if he brings anything different. None of the above (who are still on the roster) have yet to demonstrate they're any better than mediocre blockers.
Two incoming running backs come with the Walsh stamp of approval. Green is already 220 lbs. and his senior highlight reel shows him doing a lot of inside power running and finding his extra yards. Deveon Smith is already Toussaint-sized and seems to have that micro-instinctual quality that Hart had. No idea if either of these guys can block.
[The rest of the offense after you JUMP]
It didn't take long for last weekend's visit to pay off, as Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake offensive lineman Mason Cole announced his commitment to Michigan this afternoon:
— Mason Cole (@MasonCole52) February 25, 2013
Cole becomes the first offensive lineman and fourth prospect overall in Michigan's 2014 class; he gave credit to a couple of his now-fellow commits for recruiting him:
— Mason Cole (@MasonCole52) February 25, 2013
His shirt is in the mail, I presume.
4*, #17 OT,
4*, #19 OT,
4*, 96, #4 OG,
While Cole is listed as a tackle by three of the four sites, he'll likely end up playing guard at Michigan. The services are split on whether he's 6'4" or 6'5", with listed weights ranging from 260 to 280 pounds. As you can see, Cole is a fringe top-100 prospect to Scout and Rivals, easily within the top 100 on 247—notably, the only site that has him at guard—and he'll presumably be somewhere in that range when ESPN releases their rankings.
Cole first emerged on the camp circuit way back in the summer of 2011, when he was a rising sophomore; Rivals's Keith Niebuhr tabbed him as a top performer at a National Underclassman camp ($):
This is someone who looks like he has a bright future, almost certainly as a tackle. Cole is lean and has great length. For his size, and the fact he's still young, he has quick feet and excellent lateral movement. His technique was as good as any linemen on hand either day. Cole's punch slowed or stopped numerous defenders. And he was smooth enough on his feet to effectively contain the speed rushers. His comprehension is high.
His success continued last summer, where he was one of the top prospects at a Florida State camp, earning this review from Rivals's Chris Nee ($):
Cole participated despite a cast on his left hand. The 6-foot-5, 267-pound offensive lineman is very athletic with quick feet and hands. He does a good job of establishing a solid base and using his arm length off the snap. He shows the quickness to immediately get out and on a defender. He also gains traction when blocking and sustain those blocks. With regards to his physical build, he may end up at right tackle or even offensive guard depending on how he grows and fills out over the next year.
Cole's athleticism stands out in his evaluations—here's a junior-year scouting report from Scout's Jamie Newburg ($):
Cole has very good feet, moves well for a big man and gets off the ball quickly. He's plenty long and could easily pack on a ton of bulk once he gets to the next level. Cole has a good base and bends well. He does tend to stand out of his stance and will need to work on staying lower.
Cole looks equally adept at run blocking and in pass pro. At times he's nasty and seems to finish off most of his blocks.
247's Josh Newburg (I don't care enough to check if he's related to Jamie) echoed the praise of Cole's feet, saying getting to the second level is his best attribute, and also noticed a mean streak in his game ($):
Mason Cole plays with a chip on his shoulder. On nearly every play Cole plays through the whistle. He didn’t get flagged for any late hits, but his aggressiveness does not go unnoticed. The opposing coaches complained several times to the officials that Cole was roughing up their defenders. His play reminds me of former Armwood star and current UF offensive lineman Matt Patchan.
Michigan is getting a lineman with a good frame, very impressive athleticism, and solid technique. Cole will need to add weight and get stronger before he sees the field in college, but (1) he's got plenty of time to do so given Michigan's depth and (2) you can say that about pretty much every high school offensive lineman.
Cole amassed 20+ offers before his commitment, most notably from Alabama, Arkansas, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, USC, and Wisconsin. That's about as impressive an offer list as you'll see a prospect have at this stage.
Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake plays in Florida's largest classification (8A); last year they reached the regional final before bowing out to Orlando Dr. Phillips. East Lake has produced just a couple of lower-ranked BCS commits in the Rivals era, but what they're producing currently should have Michigan fans excited—Cole is teammates with four-star WR Artavis Scott and 2015 potential five-star athlete George Campbell, both of whom have visited Ann Arbor with Cole. Cole and Scott—and potentially Campbell, as well—have mentioned the possibility of being a package deal; if so, Michigan is in a great position to land one of the top playmakers in the 2014 class, and perhaps one of the top players of any kind for 2015.
FAKE 40 TIME
No 40 time listed.
The only film I could find of Cole on YouTube is this short reel from MaxPreps—obnoxiously, they don't highlight Cole before plays, but he's #52 and lines up at left tackle:
A far more extensive reel is up on Cole's Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Cole is an impressive player on film and should be one of the centerpieces of the 2014 class, but he's got a long way to go before he sees the field thanks to Michigan's newfound depth on the offensive line—that's not a knock on Cole, just a very good situation for Michigan.
He'll take a redshirt, not only because he needs to bulk up, but because Kyle Kalis, Blake Bars, Kyle Bosch, David Dawson, and Dan Samuelson all project to guard from the two previous classes—it's unlikely any of those guys will move to other positions, too, since the last two classes were strong at tackle and Patrick Kugler is the center of the future.
/takes a moment to appreciate Brady Hoke's offensive line recruiting
As an upperclassman, Cole should compete for a starting spot. There are few guarantees when it comes to an offensive lineman breaking through that level of depth, and that's the best possible problem to have as a football program.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has four commits in a class that should be on the small end—currently projected to around 16, though that number should grow by Signing Day. The biggest need remains wide receiver, and Cole's commitment could help that area in a big way if he brings along Artavis Scott.
Hello. I went away, and did not tell anyone because I thought to myself "I'll have plenty of time to put some posts together in the evenings," which was not true. I should just admit to myself that sometimes I am actually on vacation. Anyway, on with talking about things.
2/24/2013 – Michigan 71, Illinois 58 – 23-4, 10-4 Big Ten
I did not have the privilege of taking in the Dan Dakich Trollganza, since I had no audio. I may have missed some things. Thing I didn't miss: Dakich's Trollrankings having Illinois in front of Michigan despite Michigan having beat them by 74 at Assembly earlier this year.
That's just cheap heat; I bet Doris turned him down and now he's taking out his anger at any available target. Doris, why?
Photos. From Eric Upchurch.
Trey Burke is kind of good, and in this one he was kind of Deshaun Thomas. On the one hand, Burke had a game that will rank with his statistical best no matter when he leaves: 26 points on 15 shot equivalents, eight assists, and the obligatory solitary turnover. Commence the waving of flags and blasting of trumpets.
On the other hand, where did everyone else go? Robinson and Hardaway edged into double digits, Stauskas was 0-fer, and the supporting scoring was a step back. I guess this is mostly Stauskas's off night, as if he gets off his requisite ten this is not even a conversation; as it was, Michigan still managed 1.15 PPP. To me that largely seemed like…
Illinois did not prevent Michigan from getting into transition. Doing that was always going to be difficult since Illinois relies on jumpers so much, and the Illini exacerbated their usual slate of ready-made breakaways off of long rebounds with a ton of open-court turnovers. Though turnovers were nearly equal—Illinois 13, Michigan 10—Michigan tripled Illinois's steals with 9, and it seemed like every one of those
- came at a junction where Illinois was pressing to extend their lead to an unmanageable distance or fight their way back into the game, and
- led to an uncontested layup.
Thus a 61% shooting night from two and Robinson's customary 5/6 line on which most of his makes required no dribbles. Burke, too, had two or three freebie layups. Those transition opportunities provided most of the distance between Michigan's twos and Illinois's twos, so provided most of the final margin in a game statistically even otherwise.
It's back: post-half run. Hypothesis about beating people with half-time adjustments took some hits over the ugly four-game run earlier, but it was golden in this one as Michigan went from down 31-28 to up 43-34 over the course of the first five minutes of the second half.
This did not compare to Michigan's blitz a few minutes later. Illinois hit a three to bring it to within four and then suffered a four-minute barrage spurred by those open-court turnovers. When it was over they were down 17 and it was all over but the pointless timeouts.
Morgan's defense: ninja impact. McGary started and after Michigan gave up 11 quick points Horford got a crack; those two alternated until Michigan found itself down eight with eight minutes left, whereupon Morgan came in. Morgan would play 17 of the remaining 28 minutes; Michigan would outscore the Illini by 21 in that time. Morgan's first stretch of PT from around 8 minutes to around 4 was a big chunk of that, as Michigan went on a 13-3 run on which the Illinois points were a Tyler Griffey free throw off of a GRIII foul and an unassisted Nnanna Egwu jumper. I know that's Morgan's man but like okay.
Morgan suffered the banked end-of-half three, and then came in a minute into the second half when McGary picked up a third foul. This was of course the second-half run; by the time Morgan left Michigan had made up a two-point deficit and led by seven. Morgan gave up a foul to get Tracy Abrams a couple FTAs; the only other make in that sequence was a DJ Richardson jumper.
So… yeah, if you want to point to Morgan as the guy who subtly swung the game from extreme danger to comfort you go right ahead. At this point it's clear his ankle is still bothering him but Michigan needs him; hopefully that's a good sign for Michigan's chances down the stretch as he gets healthier. He is clearly a better option than anyone else when McGary isn't acting as a possession fountain. In this game, McGary wasn't, with just one OREB and a steal. In that case the hedge-and-respond game Morgan has going is something the other two guys can't match.
Minutes: an issue? Burke went his customary 39; Robinson and Hardaway had 36 each. Against Penn State(!) Burke went 39, Stauskas 34, Robinson 33. The debacle at MSU obscures what the numbers might have been in a game where Michigan was within 20 for big chunks of the second half; Burke went 40 in the OT game at Wisconsin with Stauskas at 39, Hardaway at 37, Robinson 33.
You get the idea. Michigan plays all starters except their five big minutes. Burke's minutes have been especially big. Is this going to catch up with Michigan come tourney time as Burke turns into a walking corpse?
As best as I can figure, it's not an issue. A lot of good teams ride their starters hard. Last year's final four featured Kansas (314th in bench minutes), Kentucky (323rd), Louisville (340th), and Ohio State (308th). Michigan's currently 328th in that stat, which is either "a troubling lack of depth" or "a ticket to the Final Four" depending on your half-empty/half-full status.
At 35 minutes a game Burke is 88th nationally and on another level from the other guys, who range from about 200th to about 400th in minutes averaged. He's not that far in front of the various point guards from last year's FF, though. UK's Marquis Teague and KU's Tyshawn Taylor averaged 33; Craft was at 32. Only Peyton Siva was a significant step back.
Last year's FF strongly suggests that the best teams in college basketball are heavily dependent on their starters and that PGs can handle minutes in the mid-30s without much problem. If Michigan goes out and Burke has an aberrantly bad game, his heavy minutes over the home stretch of the season will get a lot of blame. But he'll probably just have had a bad game.
First episode Walter White, part infinity. Beilein yo:
would you like to hear about covalent bonds they're super exciting (Upchurch)
Free throws! Michigan had some of them, and had most of them before a brief period of end-game fouling on which Burke was 3/4. (The previous possession ended with a Burke shooting foul but one after 35 seconds had expired—definitely not on purpose.) 17 is not a huge number, but after the last month or so where trips to the line have been beyond rare it's nice that Michigan can put together some FTAs even if they're against two of the hackiest teams in the league.
Rebounding lockdown. After a frustrating start in which Illinois picked up 6 offensive rebounds as they built a 21-13 lead, Michigan locked it down. After the first 12 minutes Michigan allowed two more OREBs and finished the game in a dead heat with the Illini on the boards. Still not great against one of the poorer rebounding teams in the league; we'll live with it.
There was a point at which I thought Nnanna Egwu had read the blog and was super mad about its season-long obsession with the fact that he can't grab a ball to save his life; this faded somewhat as the game progressed. We can add another 22 minutes without a defensive rebound to Sam McLaurin's ledger; the man is a miracle.
Today's recruiting roundup recaps reactions from the weekend's visits and discusses the impact of Jerry Montgomery's departure.
Big February Recruiting Weekend Produces No Commits... For Now
Drake Harris (photo via Detroit News)
There weren't eight commitments, not that anybody expected as much. There wasn't even one commitment. That doesn't mean that Michigan's big visit weekend was a failure; far from it, in fact.
If a player was going to pledge over the weekend, it was FL OL Mason Cole. While Cole didn't take the plunge, he told Scout's Josh Newkirk that Michigan solidified their place atop his leaderboard ($):
“Michigan’s leading,” Cole said. “but I don’t I really don’t have an organized top-five. And from here on out anything can happen.”
As far as a decision timeline, Cole didn’t let out any hints of an early commitment.
“I’m just going with the flow,” Cole said regarding a timetable.
Regarding that fluid timetable, Cole told ESPN's Chantel Jennings($, info in header) that a commitment "could come at any time," to one of his top schools—Michigan, Notre Dame, Clemson, and Florida State. If he makes a choice soon, it's almost assuredly going to be Michigan, and they've positioned themselves well for a commitment whenever Cole decides to, er, decide.
The Wolverines also strengthened their position with current Michigan State commit Drake Harris, the top in-state wide receiver. Harris told 247's Steve Wiltfong that every school he's looking at—Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Florida, Georgia, and Notre Dame—is on equal footing, and the attention shown to him by both Michigan's coaches and commits made a big impact ($):
The Michigan coaches aren’t the only ones recruiting Harris. Quarterback commit Wilton Speight is also working to get him in the fold, as is 2013 signal-caller signee Shane Morris. Speight was on campus this weekend hanging with Harris.
“He seems like a great person,” Harris said. “I’ve been texting with him but this was the first time meeting him and we had a good time. I look forward to hanging out with him more. I’ve been in contact with Shane Morris and he wants me there. Everyone was giving me a lot of attention including Coach (Brady) Hoke and Michigan made a great impact on me this weekend.”
Harris has already set his next visit to Ann Arbor for March 10th, when the basketball team takes on Indiana in what should be a game with plenty of hype and excitement. Getting back-to-back visits is a great sign, even if there will be stiff competition from upcoming visits to Florida (March 22nd) and Ohio State (planned, not set).
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the reactions from the weekend and the impact of Jerry Montgomery's departure.]
Michigan's defensive line coaching staff. Bryan Fuller|MGoBlog (Title Reference)
There's never been a better time to start in life. It ain't too early and it aint too late!
Starting as a farmer with a brand new wife. Still be living in a brand-new state!
Brand new state- Gonna treat you great!
OOOOOOKLAHOMA! Coaches at large schools have done well to be entering their third year at the helm with their own jobs intact. To get that far with all of your coordinators means taking out several mortgages with every deity who still accepts sacrifices. You do poorly, can a coordinator. Do well, your best guys are instantly on the short list for whichever second-rate SEC school fired Houston Nutt this week. Do… well there isn't a middle ground is there?
So it is with great remarkability that I announce that the staff Brady Hoke arrived with in 2011 has finally had its first defection. Jerry Montgomery, a guy who's a few months older than me and a few months younger than Brian, is leaving the job he shares with the guy he reports to, and the guy that guy reports to, in order to actually coach defensive linemen at Oklahoma. This was an inevitable move once the soul patch became a full-grown beard and "knows what Adult Swim is" ceased being relevant to a generation of recruits who don't even realize robot Optimus Prime is supposed to look like a truck.
Gonna buy you barley, carrots and pertaters,
pasture for the cattle, spinich and termaters,
Flowers on the prarie where the June bugs zoom,
Plen'y of air and plen'y of room, Plen'y of room to swing a rope!
Plen'y of heart and plen'y of hope.
OOOOOOKLAHOMA! Montgomery did in fact prove himself adept at connecting with recruits on a football level. Whereas in 2012 many of the big Ohio recruits were in Mattison's western territory, Montgomery is the guy who in 2013 cracked open Pickering/Columbus and did his part in reeling in a five-star running back. For this, that, and the other reason it was coming time for him to go somewhere where he isn't just [the young guy on staff who's there to relate to the kids, aka…] the Beyonce.
Down in Oklahoma, Josh Heupel has dreamy eyes and probably knows what it's like to get in trouble for texting during class, something neither I nor Montgomery can relate to. Jerry is moving up, even if the school is a step down (to us) or sideways (to everyone else). He's coached DL under Hoke and Mattison and now he'll add Stoops to his resume, and in three or five years somebody will see if he knows how to run a defense. This wasn't Stoops coming in with a magic potion, nor did ol' Jud ride in on his fancy wagon to outbid another Big Ten team for its favorite up-and-comer. It's the way things go.
The rest of the staff is expected to be here awhile, or at least until Fred Jackson decides it's time to hold an event like the Olympics but more athletic to determine whether Hart or Wheatley's the more worthy successor. Michigan now has an opening for an assistant coach who knows what it feels like when Instagram deletes all your photos to cover a nominal position and stop by Ann Arbor every few weeks to deliver a batch of LOIs. In this day and age it's crucial to have at least one guy on staff who doesn't know the words to Oklahoma.
OOOOOklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain!